Friday, August 13, 2010

New Books You Might Have Missed - Fiction

The deliveries of newly arrived fiction have been looking pretty good lately. It seemed like it was time to devote a post to a few of those titles. These aren't the giant blockbusters with long waiting lists, but great looking fiction that I found on the shelf today.

Gunshot Road by Adrian Hyland

It seems to me that mystery fans are always on the lookout for a new series. Hyland brings us volume 2 in his Emily Tempest Investigation series. Volume 1, entitled Moonlight Downs, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Novel, an Australian prize that celebrates new writers in that country. Emily Tempest is a young woman who has recently returned to the outback after years living in cities and abroad. The stories offer a rich setting, and explore the relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

Walks With Men by Ann Beattie

A slim summer offering from a multi-award winning American author who is known for her strength in short form writing. Set in NYC in the early 1980s, it follows a young woman who has recently arrived after graduating from Harvard and of her romance with an older man. Booklist said: "This is a stark tale even for Beattie, the master of terseness and angst. But it is also an oddly beautiful distillation of a specific moment both in one fledgling writer’s life and in New York’s celebrity-driven culture, when creative forces gather like a held breath or the sea before a tsunami." Probably not the lightest summer read, but one that certainly sounds intriguing.

The Line by Olga Grushin

The second offering from Russian-American author Grushin, who previously penned The Dream Life of Sukhanov. The jacket description seems to give only a glimpse into the story: "The line begins to form on the whispered rumor that a famous exiled composer is returning to Russia to conduct his last symphony. Tickets will be limited. The concert date is unknown. Nameless faces join the line, jostling for preferred position—a crowd of strangers, each intent on gaining advantage. But as time passes and the seasons change and still the ticket kiosk remains shuttered, these anonymous souls take on individual shape...." Reviews are wildly mixed, Publisher's Weekly called it a "disappointing follow-up" but Library Journal gave it a starred review saying it was "recommended ecstatically". That can't help but make me a little bit curious.

Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva by Victoria Rowell

Rowell spent 17 years in the role of Drucilla Winters on daytime soap The Young and the Restless. This summer novel focuses on actress Calysta Jeffries who plays a role in the TV series "The Rich and the Ruthless." The publishing information for this book describes it as "Ripped from the headlines of Soap Opera Digest and straight off of the television screen, Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva will give readers plenty to talk about as they try to guess where the real world ends and Rowell's imagination begins." Sounds like a perfect beach read.

Holy Water by James P. Othmer

When a book is outlandish and satirical, I sometimes find it difficult to try and sum it up, so I'll let the book jacket from this 2nd novel from an author who also gave us Adland: searching for the meaning of life on a branded planet, sum it up: "Henry Tuhoe is the quintessential twenty-first-century man. He has a vague, well-compensated job working for a multinational conglomerate—but everyone around him is getting laid off as the company outsources everything it can to third-world countries. He has a beautiful wife—his college sweetheart—and an idyllic new home in the leafy suburbs, complete with pool. But his wife won’t let him touch her, even though she demanded he get a vasectomy; he’s seriously overleveraged on the mortgage; and no matter what chemicals he tries the pool remains a corpselike shade of ghastly green. Then Henry’s boss offers him a choice: go to the tiny, magical, about-to-be-globalized Kingdom of Galado to oversee the launch of a new customer-service call center for a boutique bottled water company the conglomerate has just acquired, or lose the job with no severance. Henry takes the transfer, more out of fecklessness than a sense of adventure. In Galado, a land both spiritual and corrupt, Henry wrestles with first-world moral conundrums, the life he left behind, the attention of a steroid-abusing, megalomaniacal monarch, and a woman intent on redeeming both his soul and her country. The result is a riveting piece of fiction of and for our times, blackly satirical, moving, and profound."

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